Should I test my apartment for radon?
The answer is...."That depends!"
The EPA recommends that testing be done on all units "below" the 3rd floor. The large percentage of problems with radon exist on the 1st floor (because its closest to the source: "the ground"). However, some 2nd floor units have occasionally tested high when the levels on the first floor were very high!
(A tall, multi-floor condo complex in Charlotte several years ago tested high on the 3rd floor, over a garage! After extensive diagnostic testing it was found that the concrete contractor used rock in their concrete mix that came from ground up stone at a "uranium" mine!)
Another factor in considering radon testing in rental units is the amount of time you plan to stay there. ANY radon exposure is "accumulative". It simply depends on how long you are exposed to it and how "high" the levels were. Short term exposure to high levels of radon can be similar in risk to long term exposure to lower levels.
If you think you plan to live in a rental more than a year or two, consider getting it tested!
Will my landlord pay for testing my unit?
Again, that "depends!"
Many landlords are sensitive to potential liabilities that their tenants might incur from radon and are "pro-active" to identify them. Others, unfortunately, are only concerned about the "cost of testing" and IF doing so might cause them to have to spend more money "later" to fix problems if found.
If I buy a kit and do the testing myself, will my landlord fix the problem, if found?
Yet again, "it depends!" Even though the EPA has identified radon exposure to cause potential health concerns, there is no "legal requirement" to fix it! Even in real estate transactions, a seller may find out that their home has "tested high" but they are not "required" to correct it! But they are required (by law) to "disclose" that high levels of radon were found. Normally, a "fix" is negotiated between seller and buyer during the real estate transaction.
A landlord who finds that some of his/her rentals have problems with radon may decide NOT to do anything. However, if you believe the EPA and the Surgeon General's health advisories, you may choose to MOVE somewhere else! That "prospect" is what tends to motivate landlords most, "the lost of long standing income streams". A few have fixed problems because they wanted to avoid "stigmas" that might come about if the situation were reported in local media outlets (newspaper and on TV!).